back to article Supreme Court raises eyebrows at Google's cozy $8.5m legal deal

The US Supreme Court is distinctly unimpressed with a cozy deal cooked up by Google's lawyers after the ad giant lost an $8.5m class action lawsuit for violating user privacy. On Wednesday, the nation's top court was asked to tighten up rules over so-called "cy pres" settlements where most, or sometimes all, of a settlement …

  1. ST Silver badge

    cash-strapped Harvard University, Stanford University [ ... ]

    Stanford is really cash-strapped too. Its Board of Trustees sings l'Internationale at the start of every meeting. Hoping for a better day.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Bret thing

    What did he lie repeatedly about? I must have missed that? (I check BBC news frequently)

    I'm also a bit wary of "credibly" - I don't think we'll ever know in this case, it was too long ago and has become political - I would have gone with "accused".

    The first question is entirely serious, I don't remember anything about him caught in a lie and I check BBC news ... gotta be at least 3 times a day.

    As for the second bit, that's nothing to do with this case, in general "credible" in a "he said she said" type thing is *VERY* difficult, and I really hate how polar things are these days this is not something I have a stance on (UK here, it's 3000-5000 miles away!)

    The court of public opinion is getting silly now (again not this thing) with anger and counter-anger and counter-counter-anger ect ect ....

    Lastly (to try and stave off those downvotes!) literally incredible means "not credible" - what would be incredible here? By being "not incredible" we get credible? Maybe I'm just wary after a crazy girl when I was in sixth form...

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: The Bret thing

      Have an upvote for that.

      The catch here is the guy is a Justice. There's 3 sides to this.. The Dems, the Repubs, and what actually occurred. So everyone knows there was something shady including Congress. Sadly, we, the people have to deal with it or change things. So.. let's just see how he does his job. If he crosses the line he'll either be hounded out of that position. Not a perfect system, but it's the one we have.

      Disclaimer: I hate political games as much as the next person as those games cloud the issues. Some will think the Justice is scum, others not but that's were we are today in a highly political environment. Hopefully it will change and the people will see through the politicians games and BS and elect something we haven't seen in a while: some statesmen who have the nations interest at heart and not their parties' interest.

    2. ST Silver badge

      Re: The Bret thing

      > I don't remember anything about him caught in a lie and I check BBC news

      The fact that you don't remember anything about Brett Kavanaugh being caught in a lie does not mean he wasn't caught lying once, or more than once.

      It only means that you don't know if he lied or not. That's not exculpatory, which is the obvious intent of your post.

      1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

        @ST Re: The Bret thing

        Dude, quit trying to be a lawyer.

        Kavanaugh was never caught in a lie or lying.

        The so called perjury trap is that you have two witnesses who say two different things and therefore one must be lying so you have a possible case for a perjury charge. If only you could prove that what was said was a lie.

        We know that Kavanaugh didn't lie because of the questions being asked. If the answer is subjective ... e.g. did you drink a lot? (To some one beer is a lot. To others downing a 6 pack while at a party is not.)

        You don't have a lie.

        There's more to this and if you really want to get down to it... we can investigate the lawyers and the accusers and probably find that it was all politically motivated and they lied.

        1. ST Silver badge

          Re: @ST The Bret thing

          > Dude, quit trying to be a lawyer.

          For your own sake, stop posting dumb shit. I don't think you realize how illogical your entire argument really is. Save yourself from further embarrassment.

          Brett Kavanaugh didn't lie because I say he didn't lie. That's your entire argument, in a nutshell.

          Never mind the fact that he was indeed caught lying, repeatedly, under oath.

          That's the problem with right-wing Trumpkins. You are incapable of constructing a logical argument based on facts. It's called post-truth. Meaning: your prejudices, opinions and biases overrule facts. And when you're caught in this fallacy, you always resort to the victim grievance fallback.

          Try something new for a change. Maybe it will work better.

          1. DougS Silver badge

            Re: @ST The Bret thing

            He repeatedly lied in his previous testimony when becoming an appellate judge, claiming a lack of involvement in Bush White House legal decisions that records show he was involved in.

            No doubt there was more evidence in the hundreds of thousands of pages withheld from the committee by the Trump White House. They knew there was a smoking gun in there, otherwise they would have released it all.

            For that matter, Kavanaugh knew he was going to to face charges for sexual assault as early as July, and was already calling people to round up support. Which was made pretty obvious when less than 24 hours after the first accusation surfaced, he had a letter signed by 65 former classmates saying they'd never seen him do anything like that. You don't get 65 classmates rounded up and signing something in that short of a time, it was obviously prepared in advance. Who would prepare something like that in advance, except for someone who knew they'd be accused because they knew they were guilty? Before anyone claims the democrats would have laid such charges on anyone, why didn't they do it to Gorsuch? Probably because he's never sexually assaulted anyone!

            1. Nightkiller

              Re: @ST The Bret thing

              So he did his due diligence. Did you?

            2. Jtom

              Re: @ST The Bret thing

              Guess you’ve never held a job in a corporate structure. I’ve been ‘involved’ in a lot of projects - given tasks to do, documents to produce - with absolutely NO involvement in any of the actual decisions. That you don’t understand that concept is a reflection of your ignorance, not someone else’s integrity.

              1. Tom 38 Silver badge

                Re: @ST The Bret thing

                Not to get partisan about it, but Kavanaugh said he never drank heavily, but several of his former college classmates distinctly remember him drinking excessively, and was "belligerent and aggressive" when drunk.

                That is obviously "He said"/"she said" stuff - there is never going to be "proof" of a lie, so everything has to be on balance of probabilities.

                There is nothing wrong with drinking when a student, and working out how to handle your drink, but on the balance of probabilities, he fibbed about his student alcohol consumption. Personally, I'm not convinced about the sexual assault allegations, I'm absolutely convinced that as a student he got wasted regularly, and then lied about it because that would paint the assault allegations in a different light.

                1. sprograms

                  Re: @ST The Bret thing

                  He never said he never drank heavily. I happened to observe the entirety of the hearings. He claimed he never "blacked out." The opposition tried to claim he must have, but they had no evidence whatever.

                  "Newly seated Justice Brett Kavanaugh – who has been credibly accused of sexual assault and lied repeatedly during his confirmation hearing –" -this statement in the post is wildly innacurate. Many people said, on the day Blasey-Ford testified, that she was credible. They later made it clear that they meant "believable," which is a purely an emotional reaction to her demeanor that day.

                  Casually slinging such libels, statements made as if of fact, not mere opinion, is a despicable activity.

        2. stiine Bronze badge

          Re: @ST The Bret thing

          re: Ian.

          You missed the part they they both were probably lying.

          To me, there's no difference between lying by omission and lying because you no longer remember what was actually said or done. I, personally, don't trust my memory as far as I can throw it (which is about 6 feet.)

        3. Version 1.0 Silver badge

          Re: Kavanaugh

          Kavanaugh is a lawyer, they don't lie, they just was questions in response to questions and then, when they have confused the questioner they answer their question.

          GOP: Did you have sex with that woman?

          BC: Please define sex.

          GOP: ... quotes scene from Debbie does Dallas

          BC: Nope, never did that so I didn't have sex.

          Case Closed.

          Conclusion? All Lawyers lie, it's their job, it's what they get paid for.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Bret thing

        Same AC here (honest! But unverifiable)

        I was saying "I don't remember anything about him lying" and mentioning BBC news so someone could go "here: " and I could then see "oh shit yeah he did do that...."

        The credible thing was about "okay so she's the right age, was in the area at the time" - as surely any girl not born then, in college at the opposite side of the states, ect ect that should be "dubious" at the least (they might travel, but you see what I mean, same school same time does not rule it out, where as "so she travels all that way while a student..." is more ruley-outy and worth asking her "so what brought you there?" ect ect)

    3. nerdbert

      Re: The Bret thing

      I, too, wonder at the "credibly accused" of sexual assault aspect. We have one person who claimed to be assaulted who can remember no details about just where or when the assault happened, and whose account is refuted by all the others she says were present, including one of her "lifelong friends", and that happened so long ago that there is no possibility of physical evidence. And the fact that the memories were recovered in couples' therapy ... well, "recovered" memories 30 years after the event should be viewed with extreme skepticism on merely the scientific evidence. I don't see how you can get a "credible" out of the whole sexual assault situation. And the other accusations have been far, far less credible than even Ford's!

      You might be able to say "credibility accused of lying", but even that has shades of distinction as to what exactly "involved with a decision" means, for example. Did he pass the paperwork from those who actually wrote the legal reasoning, as his supporters claim, or was the passing on of the paperwork also involved in editing the material enough to make him "involved" as his accusers claim? And how are we to tell 36 years later just what the jargon of his particular group of friends really meant by their slang?I know enough from my experience that what slang can vary in meaning throughout the country. There are shades of grey in this "lying" thing that don't seem to be apparent to the partisans on both sides and the repel those of us forced to endure their rantings.

      1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

        Re: The Bret thing

        FFS, can the red and blue team faithful please take this shit somewhere else? And that includes you too Kieren!

        Jeheebus H wholly muthafuckah this petty back and forth shit being injected at every forking opportunity is getting exhausting. Fuck, there's a reason both D and R teams are below 30% and shrinking. Now run along and go play in the street with your frenemies and let the remaining adults go on about our day.

        1. ST Silver badge

          Re: The Bret thing

          > take this shit somewhere else

          Uh-oh. The School Principal is here. He's kickin' ass and taking' names.

          Behave, or he'll tell Mom and Dad at the next PTA.

          I'm shaking in my boots.

      2. jmch Silver badge

        Re: The Bret thing

        credibility accused of lying

        According to me, the lying / sexual assault is a 'he said she said' could be true, can't be proven. What really should have disqualified Kavanaugh from supreme court was his Bush-era support of torture

  3. doublelayer Silver badge

    Original judge

    After hearing the arguments from plaintiffs' and defendants' council, the court is forced to accept that it isn't feasible to make payments to all 129 million people in the amount of four cents. Therefore, we have decided that obviously an abuse by a company is worth far more than four cents to the victims, so we're just going to get our calculator out here. Let's say that they all deserve like a hundred dollars at least? Oh sorry, that wouldn't be viable. So two dollars it is.

    In order to redress objections mutually agreed to by council of both plaintiff and defendant, The new fine for the defendant will be set to a total of $258 million, which is to be distributed to the class action plaintiffs. Oh, and the defendant has to pay separately for any arrangements. Chop chop.

    1. Diogenes

      Re: Original judge

      I like the idea of the lottery. Pick 8 members of the class to get a mill each. Failing that a cy pres payment for the 'fund to pay off the national debt'

    2. nerdbert

      Re: Original judge

      We can fix this situation very quickly. Make the lawyers the *last* to be paid, not the first, when damages are calculated. If the damages were only $0.04/person, then lawyers should make no more than what each damaged person did. Oh, if we feel particularly generous, let's let the lawyers count a reasonable number of support staff in these suits, too. The firm in this case might make $1.20 for bringing this!

      1. ratfox Silver badge

        Re: Original judge

        If the damages were only $0.04/person, then lawyers should make no more than what each damaged person did.

        The problem is that in that case, there's going to be no lawyer who will work on such a lawsuit.

        The entire point of class action lawsuits like this one is to hold companies accountable for misdoings that are a relatively small inconvenience to a large amount of people. Without this system, there is nothing stopping the large corporations from polluting quality of life at a global level, because it is not worth it for any single individual to raise the issue.

        The point is making the guilty party pay an amount proportional to the total damage they have done, to deter them from doing it again. Compensating the class members is purely secondary.

  4. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    Mark Twain said it best.

    Paraphrased: Kill all the lawyers, lobbiests, & politicians.

    "What do you have if you've got a million lawyers up to their necks in concrete? Not enough concrete."

    We could build giant sea walls along the coasts to handle climate change sea rises, dispose of all the lawyers, lobbiests, & politicians as building filler, & fix two problems at the same time.

    Either that or pack them in a rocket like so many toothpicks, don't bother with food, water, seats, bathrooms, or oxygen, & launch that sucker into the sun.

    I'll bring the marshmallows so we can roast them over the pyre!


  5. WatAWorld

    Kieran, if you and your editor want to start being a credible journalists ...

    Kieran, if you want to start being a credible journalist you're going to have to stop spouting stuff that most everyone related to events knows are false.

    On this side of the Atlantic we all heard the stuff about Kavanaugh, we all heard how one person making the allegations lied about material facts, and how the other was a crank who'd pulled similar stunts in the past.

    None of that has anything remotely to do with this story.

    Your just spouting slanderous garbage. And why? To be trendy? To be "provocative"?

    Today "being provocative" by saying things you cannot possibly sincerely believe means trolling.

    Are you and your editor trolling?

    1. YetAnotherLocksmith

      Re: Kieran, if you and your editor want to start being a credible journalists ...

      If you are actually a reader of this site, I would have thought you'd be predisposed to logic. Reality plays a strong part in most IT people's lives, because of fault finding and the like - if you don't plug it in, it won't work, etc.

      Clearly, you're the exception that proves the fool. ^wrule.

  6. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

    @El Reg Your ANTIFA t-shirt is showing...

    When the author writes:

    Newly seated Justice Brett Kavanaugh – who has been credibly accused of sexual assault and lied repeatedly during his confirmation hearing – was also critical of the arrangement. He repeatedly called it "strange", suggested there were other better options and warned that it had the "appearance of favoritism and collusion."

    You know that there is unnecessary bias in the story that really has no place in Journalism.

    Kavanaugh is a Supreme Court Justice.

    That's all you had to say.

    Instead you push out unnecessary rhetoric which actually is being shown to be completely false.

    Creepy Porn Lawyer and his client are being referred to the DoJ for possible charges.

    Ford's lawyers are also being investigated.

    While I would expect this BS from CNN, I would hope that a more respected technical news site, even if web only, would hold their reporters to higher standards. And even then, we're still talking about grading on a curve.

    1. YetAnotherLocksmith

      Re: @El Reg Your ANTIFA t-shirt is showing...

      Been drinking the koolaid at some other sites, have we?

      If you think that was a complete and thorough investigation, there's no way to help you.

      As for "Anti fascist T-shirt"? I don't think anyone here, besides you perhaps, would be sad to find El Reg being against genocide and thought police. Maybe think about the words you use?

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: @El Reg Your ANTIFA t-shirt is showing...

        Even the biggest Trump butt kisser knows it was not a "complete" investigation by any means, given that hundreds of thousands of pages of Bush White House records were withheld, and the FBI was instructed to conduct a very narrow investigation of the accusations against him. If the situation was reversed Mr. Gumby would be apoplectic about the democrat whitewash, and be sure they were hiding something. Which they would be - I should say WILL BE since now that the republicans have gotten away with it, they've provided a roadmap for the democrats to do the same next time they're in charge.

        That's the problem with such slimy behavior, whichever minority party that has it done over their objections remembers it, but not to correct it but to say "hey that's a good idea for us to put in our bag of dirty tricks".

        And thus the bar gets lower over time, and things that were unthinkable 20 years ago become commonplace, and our government gets further and further away from the ideals of the founding fathers.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: @El Reg Your ANTIFA t-shirt is showing...

          "And thus the bar gets lower over time, and things that were unthinkable 20 years ago become commonplace, and our government gets further and further away from the ideals of the founding fathers."

          Which is the takeaway of the Great American Experiment. Nothing, and I emphasize NOTHING made by man can truly withstand the test of time, and there's nothing we can do about because the rot is inherent to the human condition. In most given choices, there are winners and losers, and in humans, losers hold grudges if not engage in immediate revenge. Plus, if they feel they're threatened (and it's easy to trigger that in us), humans are instinctively inclined to cheat (and the cheating is meta, meaning cheating can be cheated, meaning there's no real way to curb it).

          TL;DR: We're just screwed as a species. Unless we evolve better (and we're not well-equipped to get to that point), we probably need a deus ex machina to come save us.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @El Reg Your ANTIFA t-shirt is showing...

          "ideals of the founding fathers"

          Rich white slavers writing a constitution. I've read up on this recently, they most certainly didn't write that constitution with the people in mind. They made sure their property was protected and introduced a broken democracy where even if one state voted to end injustice the chance of getting them all to follow this path is impossible. What we see now is the end point of all this where people are slaves in all but name. The only reason it's took this long was the lack of distractions like TV and the internet that sow division between social groups.

          1. ratfox Silver badge

            Re: @El Reg Your ANTIFA t-shirt is showing...

            I'm not going to go into whether Kavanaugh lied or not, but it was indeed entirely irrelevant to the rest of the article and felt out of place.

    2. strum Silver badge

      Re: @El Reg Your ANTIFA t-shirt is showing...

      I assume you are wearing your pro-fascist T-shirt with pride?

      1. Jtom

        Re: @El Reg Your ANTIFA t-shirt is showing...

        I’ve come to believe that AntiFA actually means, ‘Anti First Amendement’, since their main objective always seems to be to silence those with whom they disagree.

  7. gbshore

    What’s with the potshot at Justice Kavanaugh? “Credibly accused.... lied...” what does what occurred have to do with this? It has nothing to do with it... would El Reg not be fair and make the same comment about Justice Thomas???? Stop being so Left leaning in your articles... it was a CHEAP shot and had NO PLACE in the article. Lastly, the accusations were NOT CREDIBLE AMD MO EVIDENCE WAS FOUND... I may have to jettison reading this RAG if it can’t be non political....

  8. Starace Silver badge

    Congratulations Kieren

    You've managed to distract from a really interesting article with that subtle Kavanaugh comment.

    It has nothing to do with anything in the story, it doesn't fit the flow of the text at all and as you might notice you've got everyone talking about one paragraph and ignoring the actual story.

    If only for the sake of getting people to appreciate your work try to keep irrelevant stuff out. Back in the day this place had editors to tell you this but apparently no more.

  9. Herby Silver badge

    If you want to fine Google, and benefit people...

    How about making them not run ads for a certain period of time. How about a week or so.

    To really make it stick in, make the lawyers for everyone watch the ads that were turned off.

  10. Scary Biscuits

    I really do wonder at how demented some journalists have become by Trump.

    More than most, journalists benefit from a strong legal system to be able to do their job, criticising the powerful without ending up in prison. Yet this article undermines that protection, supporting instead mob justice, 'credibly accused'. Witches were 'credibly accused' in the Dark Ages. You won't like it when the mob turns on itself or on you, as it always does eventually. Idiots.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "You won't like it when the mob turns on itself or on you, as it always does eventually."

      But if the mob is already out, as it seems judged by recent events, all you can do is redirect them from time to time. The reckoning seems inevitable at this point; it's just a a matter of how long it can be postponed.

  11. Spasticus Autisticus
    Paris Hilton

    Psst - Kieren, your bias is showing. Tuck it back in out of sight like good journalists do.

    Paris, as she likes to let it all hang out too :-)

  12. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge

    Illogical Legalese

    I am definitely not a lawyer, but the takeaway from this story seems to be that a legal suit can be filed on my behalf without my consent or knowledge and then the people filing the suit can get with the accused and split the money that was supposedly for restitution for the harm caused me between them, again without my consent or knowledge, and give some of it to some third party that I may or not approve of. How the hell is this different from the reason this action was brought in the first place with Google gathering and profiting from information it had gathered from me - say it with me - without my consent or knowledge?

  13. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    You should get off the soapbox, El Reg....

    "Brett Kavanaugh – who has been credibly accused of sexual assault"

    He wasn't "credibly accused"--he was accused by someone who could not provide a place, time or corraborating witnesses of the alledged attack. Now, I am not saying something did not happen, it might have. However, there is ZERO evidence to support the charge, and I am not in favor of suspending assumption of innocence or bringing back "She's a witch! Burn her!!"-style criminal justice.

    1. Jtom

      Re: You should get off the soapbox, El Reg....

      Some of her ‘memory’ of the event was clearly wrong. She claimed to have made a cellphone call to a friend immediately after the ‘attack’, in response to whether she told anyone about it at the time. Problem is, the first cellphone wasn’t sold until two years after the event could have possibly happened, and it cost $4k.

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